I am very playful with my nephew. I helped raised him when he was younger, and ever since I can remember we would play fight, race, and tease each other. I tried to explain that to my boyfriend, but nothing is getting through to him. I tried to give context to all of his concerns, like I don’t believe my nephew looking at my butt was sexual. It’s an ongoing joke in my entire family how big my butt is, commented on only by the female family members but I am sure noticed by all. But my boyfriend says “he knows what he saw.”
Now, my boyfriend is creeped out. I don’t have romantic feelings for my nephew; I am not flirting with him and having to even explain that makes me question my entire relationship with my boyfriend. I am trying so hard to be calm but it’s upsetting to be accused of something like this.
What should I do? How can I make him see the truth? — Didn’t Mean to Creep Him Out
You’ve been together ten years and your boyfriend only met your family for the first time last week? You’ve been together for ten years and seeing you with your nephew is making your boyfriend question your whole relationship? Something is amiss, and I suspect this issue of being creeped out is your boyfriend’s escape plan that he’s probably been looking for for awhile. He’s probably had one foot out the door for who knows how long, and now he can say that your behavior with your nephew is what is causing him to question your entire relationship. The truth probably is that he’s been questioning your relationship for quite a long time, and, sure, watching you “play fight” with your 17-year-old nephew probably did creep him out a little, but I promise if that’s true, it was the straw — and not a sudden anvil dropping from the sky — that broke the camel’s back.
If you’re honest with yourself, I suspect you’ve probably been questioning the relationship, too. Unless you’ve been estranged from your family — and you make no mention or suggestion of that — it’s odd that your boyfriend of ten years only just now met them. It suggests that there have been breaks in your relationship or that at least one of you failed to prioritize this fairly big step. And why would that be? Most likely because at least one of you has been unsure about the two of you together and hesitant to move forward.
If this is honestly a huge surprise to you — that your boyfriend would question your relationship at all — then, well, welcome to your new reality. You have a boyfriend of ten years who doesn’t want to commit and who has found, after ten years, a convenient excuse to avoid committing without it seeming like it’s his fault at all. If I were you, I would take this opportunity to do some soul-searching and meditate on whether this relationship has been fulfilling for you and whether you might be ready to move on. If you are ready to MOA, this is a good opportunity to part ways. You can both feel ok about giving this a real go – TEN years, and you finally got him to meet you family even, but it just isn’t working.
If, however, you are not ready to part ways and you really, truly believe in your heart this is the dude for you, take this opportunity to see if you’re on the same page and what each of you needs to do to get there if you aren’t. Take your boyfriend’s concerns about your behavior seriously. If it made him uncomfortable watching you jump all over your 17-year-old nephew, hugging him and kissing him and rolling around in bed with him, acknowledge that that behavior may seem unconventional, that you can appreciate your boyfriend being surprised to see it, and that you’ll take it down a notch in the future out of respect for your boyfriend and because you realize that, now that your nephew is not a young child, certain boundaries should exist that maybe weren’t necessary before.
When she disappears from the picture for a few days or a week or two, things are wonderful with us. I have never felt more connected to another person before. We are intellectually, intimately, and temperamentally perfect for each other. When I’m not sharing him with his ex, I couldn’t be happier. And he feels the same way. When she’s not breathing down his neck, he wants me and wants to pursue a long-term future with me. But then she always finds a reason to pop up and remind him that she’s still hanging around, desperately waiting to be with him even when she knows he doesn’t love her and she isn’t his first choice.
The fault in this situation lies with both of them. It’s her fault because she is incredibly manipulative and incessant in her pursuit of him: coming over at 3 am, screaming and crying, banging on the door, driving by late at night, showing up at his family’s Thanksgiving (which I couldn’t be at this year), using guilt to manipulate and cripple him, saying she will hate him forever if he doesn’t do blah blah…. and it’s his fault too because he won’t put his foot down and banish her from his life.
I don’t know how to make this situation better. I feel so helpless and angry. I don’t understand why she can’t just be respectful and leave us alone, and I don’t understand why he doesn’t respect my feelings enough to shun her from his life for all the awful things she’s done.
I need help! – Troubles with the Past
Well, you aren’t in a relationship with the ex-girlfriend; you’re in a relationship with your boyfriend, and, so, HIS misbehavior or mishandling of the situation is what is affecting your relationship the most. And, frankly, his handling of the situation SUCKS. He’s showing zero respect and regard for you, and if you can only count on the person you love to have your back when it’s convenient and not when it requires some effort or compromise or discomfort or managing some negative feelings, you can’t count on the person you love, period. This isn’t on you to make the situation better. It’s on your boyfriend, and I guess unless he feels like he’s at risk for losing you, he’s going to continue prioritizing his ex-girlfriend’s feelings over yours.
Frankly, if it were me — and it has been me in the past as I’ve been in a similar situation — I’d move on. A man who prioritizes his ex-girlfriend’s feelings over his present girlfriend’s feelings is not someone who’s emotionally available. If he has to be convinced to prioritize you and to cut off ties with the manipulative, abusive ex, then he’s showing you what your worth is to him. You simply do not matter enough to him to make himself a little uncomfortable (by being the “bad guy” who hurts the ex-girlfriend). He’d rather you be uncomfortable than him (or her!). That says everything you need to know about his feelings for you, and there’s nothing you can do to change that. I honestly don’t know why you’d even want to try. If you have to work to make someone you love throw a little respect and regard your way, what’s the point? The right person won’t need convincing; respecting you will come as naturally as breathing (and when it doesn’t, then he isn’t the right person).
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.